Fielding wasn’t a problem for Dayton Dragons shortstop Zach Vincej.
The San Diego native had no difficulties making plays in the infield, but like much of Dayton’s lineup, he started the year cold as the April weather, and it took a sizeable chunk of the season to find his bat.
But find it he did. Vincej was hitting .473 over his last 17 games and was second in hitting in the entire minor leagues over that span. In the second half he has hit .545 and raised his season average from .226 to .280. He was named Dragons hitter of the month for June.
What opposing pitchers couldn’t stop, an injury did. Vincej strained an oblique muscle on June 27 and has been out since.
“When you have a guy in a good groove like that, it’s tough,” Dayton manager Jose Nieves said. “But if you’re playing every day it’s eventually going to happen. It can happen even if you aren’t playing every day.”
Vincej — who represented Dayton during the Midwest League All-Star Game and won the Brooks Wallace Award as a junior at Pepperdine as college baseball’s top shortstop — hasn’t enjoyed his week off, a week that could get longer. The team has no timetable for his return and plans on a gentle process to get him back in the lineup.
“It’s extremely hard,” Vincej said. “Playing every day with these guys and trying to do the best you can, it’s hard watching from the side.”
Guillon in a groove: Ismael Guillon had been Dayton’s resident version of Wild Thing, throwing balls in the dirt and everywhere else except the strike zone. He leads the Midwest League in walks with 67 — 24 more than second-place Blake Perry of South Bend.
But June came and Guillon found his control. He is 3-0 with a 3.20 ERA and was named Dragons pitcher of the month.
“He just has confidence,” Nieves said. “Sometimes you can try to do too many things at once. He’s letting the ball go and his tempo and rhythm are much better. His command has been awesome.”
Lorenzen arrives: Michael Lorenzen didn’t wait long to make his first trip to full-season minor league ball. Lorenzen was a first-round supplemental draft pick by the Cincinnati Reds on June 6. He agreed to a contract with a $1.5 million signing bonus on June 20. Friday he arrived in Dayton just as batting practice was ending, straight from extended spring training in Arizona.
Lorenzen was both a center fielder and closer for Cal State Fullerton this year. Tampa Bay drafted him in the seventh round in 2010 when he graduated from high school, but he opted for college.
He has a fastball in the 93-97 mph range and had 19 saves in 22.2 innings for Fullerton with a 1.99 ERA as a junior. He hit .335 in 61 games with seven home runs and 54 RBIs.
South Bend at Dayton, 7 p.m.